While accounts of the mythical woodland beast Bigfoot remain debatable, the origin of the monster truck of the same name is much easier to verify.
Bob Chandler, an off-roading enthusiast from the St. Louis area, was never quite satisfied with the modifications he was making to his 1974 Ford F-250. After starting his own 4x4 parts and services shop, Chandler continuously upgraded his truck’s tires, axles, engines and more.
The truck also became to be known as “Bigfoot” due to Chandler’s heavy-footed driving style. Meanwhile, legend of the truck was spreading as quickly as the fabled animal’s and Chandler’s Bigfoot was being requested for automotive events around the country.
But Chandler cemented he and his F-250’s place in history in 1981 when he took his newly-coined “monster truck” over two junk cars in a rural field. From there, monster truck rallies were born with Bigfoot and its offspring – sequentially numbered clones – were on center stage.
Ford Motor Company became Bigfoot’s first major sponsor in 1983. Two of the company’s popular products of that era got the monster truck treatment in the form of a one-off Bigfoot edition Ford Ranger and Ford Aerostar created for the 1989 North American International Auto Show.
Over the years, Chandler’s Bigfoot 4x4 company has created 20 of the trucks, however, the original truck and others continue to be displayed at auto shows. Bigfoot 5, with its 10-foot high, U.S. Army spec. tires, made a visit to Ford World Headquarters to celebrate the company’s centennial in 2003.
Chandler is set to be inducted into the Specialty Equipment Market Association Hall of Fame in late-July.